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Blue Apron vs. HelloFresh vs. Plated10 minute read

10 minute read

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Updated for March, 2019

Blue Apron

4.5 Stars

HelloFresh

5 Stars

Plated

4.5 Stars
Blue Apron HelloFresh Plated
Easy meal in a traditional American style using locally grown produce.
Overall Rating
HelloFresh offers great value, good recipes, and a variety of meals to break up the regular routine of meal times.
Overall Rating
Try new and interesting meals without
research and planning.
Points must go to Blue Apron with their "opt-in" service.
Ease of Use
Ordering is simple, and HelloFresh makes it east to skip deliveries or cancel altogether.
Ease of Use
If you do have some dietary requirements, Plated has a service that will be more to your liking.
Homely appeal of its meals, providing mostly local produce and familiar meat.
Quality
The company offers excellence in ingredient quality. The website also offers an archive of quick ‘easy-to-cook’ recipes.
Quality
Focuses more on the "gourmet" side of the meal.
Mostly consist of traditional American recipes, made with local produce.
Variety
While there are plenty of choices each week for the Classic & Family Plans, the Veggie Plan is limited to only three recipes a week.
Variety
More diverse selection of meals that you can choose from.
Takes into consideration those who have not cooked before or worked in the restaurant industry.
Ease of Prep
One of the largest and easiest recipe cards to follow, the preparation time listed is the most accurate we’ve encountered.
Ease of Prep
May have a problem with the wording of their recipes.
Get Started with Blue Apron Get Started with HelloFresh Get Started with Plated

Review: Blue Apron vs. HelloFresh vs. Plated


When it comes to meal kit delivery, how quickly you can access a recipe’s nutritional info and prepare the meal can be as important as the nutrition itself. Subscribing to a meal kit service can make life simpler or that much more complicated – and add up to a sizeable financial commitment. That’s why we’ve examined the ease of ordering, unboxing, cooking, and unsubscribing to the three top meal kit industry leaders.

We’ve examined the ease of ordering, unboxing, cooking, and unsubscribing to the three top meal kit industry leaders

Blue Apron

Blue Apron’s site itself is one of the easiest to use among its competitors, with a clean interface and stunning four-color recipe illustrations. Marked with clear instructions accompanied by an Instagram-worthy food shot, each recipe comes with a brief video on cooking techniques to make the dish at hand less challenging…and spotlighting the gadgetry available in Blue Apron’s online store.

Most seniors, however, are not so interested in 17-second spots on how to dice a sweet potato or peel a carrot as they are in the nutritional information. The “nutrition” in online Blue Apron recipe simply offers the number of calories. To “Get Cooking,” as the site copy puts it – i.e., read the recipe in its entirety in the hopes of learning the sodium and sugar content – signing up is necessary.

Plated

Plated’s site is equally problematic for the prospective older customer. In its defense, the company sorts its meals by categories. Depending on your dietary preferences, you can filter the meals by main protein source and view dishes featuring meat, seafood or vegetables. A tweak or two allows you to search via additional filters and view gluten-free, low-carb, quick-prep, stovetop-only or meals under 600 calories. In theory, this should be able to tell most people what they need.

However, the Plated home page is heavy on slick copy and visuals but light on actual information…and it isn’t the only page with that issue. The biggest potential dealbreaker for seniors is the difficulty in accessing full nutritional information. While the menu offers basic facts like the number of calories, protein, total carbs, and total fat, the amount of sodium poses a giant question mark when perusing recipes laden in spice and likely laden in salt. Sugar in Plated’s two-dessert option is also a major issue for the aging population, and it is nearly impossible for seniors with dietary restrictions to determine whether they can even eat a dish. Planning a delivery of Plated meals can be more trouble for diet-challenged seniors than it is worth.

HelloFresh

HelloFresh’s online presence is not as vibrant – in fact, the scrolling somewhat stalled – but it promptly provides both prospect and existing customer with the information they need to decide which recipes to purchase. This makes HelloFresh the winning choice for senior citizens hoping to reduce the time and bother out of picking out dinner.

To compensate for the new complications which it brings to the customer’s life, the unboxing process needs to be as streamlined as possible. The meal kit cook is trading trips to the grocery store and time planning meals with regularly disposing of large, ungainly boxes.

All three companies deliver insulated boxes of the same size. HelloFresh and Plated arrive in neatly organized, clearly labeled paper sacks separated by meal, separating only meat and seafood with icepacks. Blue Apron kits are packed loosely in the box, leaving the customer to figure out what goes with what. While unpacking groceries is a part of any trip home from the supermarket, a senior negotiating several meals from the week will not remember the ingredients of each dish and be obliged to spend extra time consulting the enclosed recipe card to sort everything out.

All three companies have garnered recent mixed reviews on the quality of their food – Blue Apron on wilted vegetables, HelloFresh on less-than-stellar citrus, and Plated for suddenly-reduced portions or missing ingredients since being acquired by the grocery giant Albertson’s. For an older adult, a carefully proportioned ingredient of a lesser-than-expected quality can waste an entire meal. Time will tell if these reviews are isolated incidents or if the services are experiencing growing pains from recent mergers. For these reasons, there is no clear victor in this category.

Blue Apron, HelloFresh, and Plated all offer a range of fresh takes on cuisines of the world. While Blue Apron spotlights pan-Asian cuisine, Tex-Mex fans find new renditions on their favorite dishes at HelloFresh (which offers a Family Plan of kid-friendly dishes.) Whereas HelloFresh and Blue Apron straddle the comfort zone between familiar dishes and exotic fare, Plated unmistakably holds court in connoisseur territory. On the whole, a vegetarian would have more choices week by week with a HelloFresh meal plan option designed for them. Otherwise, all three services offer such a plethora of choices for every food lover that an omnivore cannot go wrong with any of them.

With a minimum $60 order required for free shipping, consumers will ultimately spend the most at Plated regardless of the chosen meal plan.

Both Blue Apron and HelloFresh offer bottom-of-the-line pricing among top meal kit companies at roughly $10 per serving. Which is the most cost-effective involves the dinner head count, meal plan, and a host of other variables. Plated averages out at $12 per serving, making it neither a budget option nor the very highest price point in the industry. But with a minimum $60 order required for free shipping, consumers will ultimately spend the most at Plated regardless of the chosen meal plan.

Blue Apron, HelloFresh, and plated enclose large recipe cards with step-by-step directions.

The common denominator, however, is ease of preparing a recipe. Blue Apron, HelloFresh, and plated enclose large recipe cards with step-by-step directions. Blue Apron, which stashes the recipes’ nutritional information with the condiments, trails its better organized competitors. HelloFresh is the clear winner in this category not only with clear photos of its trademark six-step instructions, but with a large placemat-style card large enough to consult “hands-free” while stirring a bowl or kneading with sticky, flour-dusted fingers.

While it’s impossible to predict to what extent a future meal will be pre-prepared, HelloFresh in particular eliminates many labor-intensive steps difficult for arthritic joints or weak eyes. It encloses garlic pre-peeled, which Plated encloses the clove for the customer to gently crush and peel. Blue Apron, on the other hand, not only expects home cooks to smash the entire garlic themselves, but encloses the same clove for two separate recipes.

Of the three, HelloFresh’s estimated time frame for completing a dish is also more true-to-life than its competitors. However, the six-steps-only, 35-minute guideline also means that some of its recipes cut corners. Marinade directions involve only a few minutes of the cook’s time, even though experienced chefs realize that optimal flavor comes from immersing the food in the marinade from several hours to an entire day.

On the heels of Plated’s recent acquisition by Alberton’s, there has been an uptick in Plated’s customer service and delivery issues. Reviewers complain that the once-consistent company no longer responds to queries. However, all three companies get their fair share of mixed reviews on their customer relations department to the point that none of them stand out as particularly stellar or atrocious compared to the other two.

Consumers have reported significant issues with cancelling Blue Apron and HelloFresh.

What does separate the wheat from the chaff, however, is the steps necessary to cut financial ties with the company. While all three services offer free cancellations in theory, consumers have reported significant issues with cancelling Blue Apron and HelloFresh. While the latter has created minor complications trying to discontinue the service, Blue Apron in particular has inspired a series of blog and YouTube entries on hacks to cancel its service once and for all. Cancelling Blue Apron service requires calling an 888 number or shooting a message to a dedicated email address by the “changeable by” date reflected in your account settings…then wait for yet another email with instructions on how to complete the cancellation process. In fact, all that will happen is an automated reply with a link which Blue Apron could have been provided in the first place. This cancellation link sent via email, reviewers complain, could easily be added to the website. Many of them recount having to specify a reason for cancelling the account and repeatedly answer “are you sure” inquiries.

Judging from the complaints, even that process isn’t as easy as it sounds. First, a credit card is required to open any account – even to redeem a gift card meal from someone else. When the gift card runs out, customers complain, Blue Apron continues to send meals and charge the account without express consent. Meal kit deliveries can only be skipped – not stopped altogether without going through the cancellation process. And that requires a whole new email instructing them to stop your account.

While the heftier price tag may make some senior wary of committing to Plated, it offers the most hassle-free cancellation logistics.

Ultimately, the best meal kit provider for your needs depends upon why you are choosing to subscribe to a meal kit service. It is important to note that meal kit delivery companies, including these three, will not eliminate the need for grocery visits, carrying and opening delivery packages, or reading labels to determine whether a meal adheres to given dietary restrictions.

For seniors looking to simplify their lives or cut down on shopping and meal planning, their best bet is well-organized kit from a company without a history of customer service issues.

HelloFresh is the best bet among the three not only in ease of use and consistent customer service, but also in value for cost. For a senior with no dietary or financial restrictions who wants to patronize sustainable food sourcing, Plated is currently the winner. However, “Food sustainability” fans in search of a lower price point may find a good solution in Blue Apron.

In today’s climate, the top meal kit companies face extensive marketing costs to battle for customers as well as operational costs to deliver fresh food. Having long depended on heavy infusions of funding to grow and remain afloat, partnerships can make the difference in getting their prospects into subscription cycles. As Plated adjusts to its recent buyout and HelloFresh merges with its competitor, Blue Apron will undoubtedly on the lookout for its next step as it sells meals at select Costco stores…and the game will change for all companies and their customers alike.